Everyone has had trouble sleeping at least at one point in their lives. However, if lack of sleep becomes so severe it starts impairing daily activities, your doctor might prescribe sleep medication.
Sleeping pills refer to both prescription and over-the-counter medicines that can help a person fall or stay asleep. With more and people not getting enough quality slumber, the use of sleep medications has increased. It is now estimated that almost 9 million US adults use sleeping pills regularly.
But are they always a good idea? Or are there other ways you can improve your sleep?
Benefits of taking sleeping pills
1. They work fast. Sleep medication offers quick relief from symptoms as their effects kick in about 30 minutes after taking the drug.
2. No extra work. Meds are very easy to use and they don’t need a lot of effort, unlike alternative methods for better sleep that require a lifestyle change.
3. They offer a short-term solution. If a person is unable to treat the underlying condition leading to sleep deprivation, whether it is stress or a medical issue, then a pill can help.
The risks of using sleep medications
1. They build up a tolerance. It goes without saying that the more frequently you use a drug, the less effect it has on your system. People who regularly take sleep meds say that they have trouble falling asleep without them or that they need a higher dose to get the same effect.
2. They can form addictions. A person may become addicted to sleeping pills, making it difficult to stop taking them, especially after long-term use.
3. Harmful side effects. Some of the common side effects of sleep medication include:
- Daytime drowsiness or feeling too sleepy to function normally the next day.
- Feeling dizzy or losing your balance.
- Stomach problems, such as constipation or diarrhea.
- Memory problems or slower cognitive abilities.
If a person is allergic to any of the ingredients in sleep medication, using them could cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Another potential side effect is the appearance of parasomnias, i.e. abnormal movements, behaviors, or dreams that take place during sleep.
4. Insomnia symptoms can deteriorate once you stop taking the pills. This condition is known as rebound insomnia when a person can’t sleep due to the discontinuation of sleep medication.
Some tips on how to improve sleep without using medication
- Set a sleep routine.
- Try yoga or breathing techniques.
- Hit the gym in the afternoon.
- Be mindful of what you eat and drink before bed.
- Choose the right kind of pillow and mattress.
- Avoid technology.
Sleep medications work quickly and effectively in alleviating some of the symptoms of sleep disorders. However, they also come with many side effects that cause health issues, discomfort and even make the condition worse.
Closely look at all the advantages and disadvantages of both prescription pills and natural remedies before making a decision. And remember: it is extremely important to consult a medical professional before taking any kind of medication and to closely follow instructions for safe use.
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